Yuriy Degtyar and Design Best Practices
How did you decide to pursue a design career?
My father is an architect, and he always painted or drew. Since childhood I have also drawn a lot, and so, I always knew I would be working in some creative field. At first, I worked at an advertising agency where I learned my first tools – Photoshop and CorelDraw. For years I worked at various agencies, evolving from web designer to art director with clients in the US, Australia, and Israel. In 2015 I got interested in UX design, and started creating my first prototypes, wireframes, taking part in workshops as an employee of a large IT company.
Name several things you wished you knew before starting your career.
- Never stop asking questions. Every designer should be curious. You need to know what are the latest trends in technology, art, and literature. How does everything work and why does it work this way?
- Every decision should be questioned. Never focus on only one way to solve the task you have. The more options you have – the better. Usually, the most obvious solutions are the least successful.
- Train your oversight. There’s always a lot of inspiration in industrial, object, product designs where you can get inspiration from someone’s experience and use it in your practice. I get a lot of inspiration from Bauhaus school, works of Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Dieter Rams, Alvar Aalto, Sebastião Salgado and Massimo Vignelli to name a few.
- Iterate, iterate, iterate – design is a never-ending process. There would be no perfect solution, you can always make your design better.
What are the first steps when you start a new project?
Human-centered design is always the main focus. The HCD framework suggets to start with competitors and domain research, what solutions do your competitors have, what are their pros and cons etc. This is what we usually call a Discovery phase. Sometimes you might also have some additional requirements from product managers and clients.
The more experience you have, the more the chances are that you have already done something similar. I have collected a huge knowledge base throughout my 18 year career, and I can suggest some solutions almost instantly.
What is your design process? Describe the design methods that you follow.
After the discovery phase, you decide on the basic issues you need to resolve and on the direction of your work. You start with interviewing clients, then go and look at what the competitors have done already, and after that try to formulate your solution in the way of insights, user stories, and scenarios, which will help cover the client’s pain points.
The most popular methodologies here would be team brainstorms (in a limited timeframe to create maximum decisions), handmade prototypes, and sketches of where we are going before we start more detailed work on the project. The next step would be to share the ideas with the client and get their feedback. This is when the client sees the first drafts and starts to better understand what they want. Then you should do very detailed prototyping and storytelling. Which story do you want to tell with the help of your prototype, what is the flow etc.
And only after that one can you start with the visual part. Don’t forget about iterating and constantly improving the designs you’re working on.
Do you use any psychological principles to your design?
There are so many bits and pieces that are used in design that it’s hard to name the most important ones. I will name a few that come to my mind right now.
I like to follow the design principles and usability heuristics by NNG that you need to focus the user’s attention on important things and that the user can control everything, the user should always have a right to make a mistake and to cancel this mistake etc.
Craftwise, the design should have a strong and balanced color palette. There always should be balance in color, but you need to know how to make the right accents. Every design should create a feeling of movement like a novel or a movie with its classic parts: exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution.
Your design should make the users feel some kind of emotion. It shouldn’t be boring. We always need to teach the users something new while still being in the context.
Use repetition, symmetry, and contrast to help the user visually understand which parts are more important and which are secondary.
Never forget about using motion – it’s an easier way to make users understand what you wanted to show them.
Tell us about the project that you’re proudest of.
A couple of years ago I worked on an automotive project and took part in all stages of the project delivery starting from the ideation workshop in Shanghai, China, discovery phase, and then sharing the assets with the client’s production team. We created head-unit and dashboard interfaces for the vehicles which are in production now. Out of all the design concepts mine was chosen as the winner, and now this interface is used in cars that are driven in India and Thailand.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I would say that traveling is my main passion. I’ve been to 45 countries now, mostly in Asia – Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. These countries give me inspiration and energize me.
For more professional inspiration I use Pinterest, Dribbble, Behance, and other similar resources.
How do you improve your technical skills?
It’s a never-ending process. I’ve used multiple design software solutions before, the latest was Sketch, and now it’s Figma. I’ve also started learning animation tools.
What do you like most about your job at Transcenda?
My team and the people around me. I always feel at home when I’m talking to them. They are professionals and communicative, with a wonderful sense of humor. I’m really looking forward to times when we are back to normal and will spend more time in the office together.
Which Transcenda value resonates with you most?
Always finding a better way. This is what a designer’s job is about. You should always be in a constant search for the most efficient and cost effective solution.
Additionally, our clients have taught me to go an extra mile every time you do your job. I try to do a little bit more every time I have a task.
What are your hobbies and how did they shape you?
During lockdown everything was shut down and I was a bit depressed, so I started daily jogging. Some time later my friend introduced me to a triathlon coach who has helped me correct my running technique. After that I was able to run a 10 km, and subsequently a half-marathon. Then I started swimming and now I swim 3-4 times a week. When you’re into running and swimming, what’s next? Right, cycling:) So I’ve started doing all three disciplines as an amateur triathlete. Now I have a dream to make the full IronMan distance. Our CTO Alexey Koval inspires me with his example – he has already achieved an IronMan title.
What is life like during the war, how do you balance work, and what is your hope for the future?
Life is tough during the war, yet I am fortunate. Over 30% of people in Ukraine have lost the ability to work and I am fortunate to have a job that can be done remotely and is not impacted by the war. Having an ongoing source of income allows me to help my local community. I’m grateful for our clients standing by us and supporting us through these times.
I have become what some would say is a foster parent to a dog. One of my friends left Ukraine and asked me to watch her dog. Men are not able to leave the country now due to martial law restrictions and taking responsibility for this dog has helped me stay mentally strong and feel happiness during the dark days.
I moved from Kyiv to another city in Western Ukraine which is a bit safer. I still go for morning runs, I walk my foster dog, buy groceries, work, and try to find ways to help others who are less fortunate than me.
My hope for the future is that this war will end and the world will become a place that does not allow such tragedy in the future. I look forward to helping my country rebuild Ukraine and wish for the safety of every person.